I wanted to take a minute to further clarify a Tweet of mine from last night:
Yes, their money is green, but still disappointing to see that @ESPNcricinfo sells ad space to gambling sites. pic.twitter.com/QoZo1wUAcL
— Matt Becker (@limitedovers) July 8, 2013
Here’s the thing: those are agency ads. They rotate in and out based on time of day, location…etc. For instance, a little while later I saw ads for BringMeTheNews.com, a local Minnesota news aggregator. These agencies have a stable of hundreds of clients that pay a dollar or two a click to have their ads put in front of specific demographics. They then contact ESPN or Disney or whatever and negotiate price and impressions and CPM rate…etc, then the agency serves and rotates the banners – so it is all very “set it and forget it” for sites like Cricinfo.
(The above is all an educated guess). *SEE UPDATE #1*
What I am saying is, an Account Executive from ESPN or Disney did not call up bet365 and ask if them if they were interested in learning more about the advertising opportunities on Cricinfo. And I would bet dollars to doughnuts that the suits from Cricinfo, ESPN, and/or Disney really have no idea as to who all is advertising on their various sites.
But they should. And here’s why:
Cricket has a gambling problem. A nasty one. At every level. And in every country where cricket is played. And yet the sport still continues to suck on the big fat green gambling teet like it is going out of style. Just look at the advertising boards at the ground, the sponsors on players’ kits…etc.
It’s a problem. A huge problem. And it is ripping the heart right out of the game, for none of us can completely trust what is happening on the pitch in front of us anymore. The same way every time a cyclist comes out of nowhere to win a stage in the Tour de France, we all assume he is doping. Cycling’s heart and soul are gone, probably forever, and cricket, thanks to gambling, is getting there, too.
And who is supposed to be the watchdog in all of this? The media, journalists, sites like Cricinfo. But yet how can they be impartial in telling spot fixing stories if they are taking money from ad banners that list County Cricket betting lines where they was a spot fixing scandal not two seasons ago?
It is a shame that Cricinfo has decided that money is more important than legitimate journalism; a shame for journalism and a shame for the sport.
And while I am sure the supposed “firewall” between advertising and editorial exists in one way or another at Cricinfo HQ, that separation is slowly but surely ebbing away – until soon enough it will simply no longer exist.
Therefore I call on Cricinfo to cease doing business with betting websites. I know their money is green, and I know that times are hard, and I am sure there is the aforementioned firewall that protects your editors, but for a site that focuses on cricket to do business with a gambling website is quite simply the wrong thing to do.
Do the right thing, ESPN, and stop running betting related advertisements.
A hypothetical ethics question: if bet365.com approached you and offered you $1 per click to run banners, would you take it?
I like to think I would turn them down, but gosh…I don’t know.
SEE UPDATE #2
I am not a gambler. I don’t like it and find it a waste of money – but more importantly I think it ruins the game. Fantasy football as one example: I never want to be “kind of happy” that Robin van Persie scored a hat trick against Arsenal simply because he is on my fantasy team. I want to be gutted. Completely gutted.
However, I am also not anti-gambling. If that is how you want to spend your hard earned, then go right ahead. I also have no family members or friends with gambling problems. I have no dog in this hunt, in other words, I just think cricket needs to break up with betting. Now.
A couple things here. Reader Daniel points out that Cricinfo’s agency/network ads in Germany, where he is located, are even more egregious, as they are spam/scam related. He sent a screenshot over:
Also, a better term for this type of advertising is “network” – not “agency.” Though you probably got my gist.
Finally, regular reader Devanshu points out that the 365bet ads I posted a picture of above are not agency/network ads, but part of a larger partnership where “advertising for betting (is)…embedded as actual Cricinfo content” and linked me to Cricinfo’s site map which includes a link to a betting section.
This story obviously goes far deeper than I first thought.
People from several sites (Alternative Cricket, CricketEurope, and Deep Backward Point) popped up on Twitter and mentioned that they had been approached by betting sites regarding advertising but have turned them down. Andrew Nixon of CricketEurope went on to say that they instruct their networks not to serve betting related ads.
Finally, Alternative Cricket said that while they agree with my sentiment, they disagree with my reasons. They turn down betting related ads (for not a little amount of money) because their core audience is young people in India and they do not want to be responsible for getting a kid hooked.
Are you listening, Cricinfo? There are bloggers out there who do this for free or for very little money and they are turning down betting ads…it’s high time you did so, as well.
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